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It took a couple of years, but Whitfield’s Chris Wilkes made good on a promise Friday night.
Competing in the 51st annual William “Red” Schmitt Holiday Wrestling Tournament at Granite City, Wilkes squared off with Carbondale’s Zane Richards (No. 1 @ 132) for the championship at 132 pounds.
“We’d met a few times, and I’d never beaten him,” Wilkes said. “The last time we met was right here in a freestyle tournament. After he beat me, I told him that I was going to keep coming after him until I got him.”
Friday, Wilkes got him.
In the title match of the night, Wilkes (24-0) scrambled to a 3-1 overtime victory against Richards (23-2), a University of Illinois recruit who is ranked No. 1 nationally by HSWrestling.net.
“I just did the best I could. That’s the way I try to approach every match,” Wilkes said. “Zane’s an incredibly talented wrestler, maybe the best I’ve ever faced, but I just had to stay focused. It was a great match with some real tight calls that could’ve gone either way. He forced me to scramble a a couple of times, but I hung in and then started to get more pumped up as the crowd got into it.”
Wilkes, a junior who has placed third at state twice, came up with the lone takedown early in OT.
“This is a huge win for me, probably the biggest I’ve had in my high school career,” said Wilkes, who was voted as the outstanding wrestler in the 24-team event.
The two-day tournament, regarded as one of the best in the Midwest, was won by Oak Park-River Forest of suburban Chicago. Also receiving team trophies were runner-up CBC of Memphis, Minooka (Ill.), Staley of suburban Kansas City, Granite City and Whitfield.
Wilkes was one of four area wrestlers to bring home titles. The others were Triad’s Jake Tindle (170), Fort Zumwalt West’s Tanner Day (195) and Francis Howell Central’s Cole Anderson (220).